Thousands of supporters of the influential Shia political leader Moqtada Sadr have invaded, for the second time this week, the Iraq Parliament in Baghdad and they assure that they plan to occupy it until further notice, after a day of protests in a country plunged into a deep political crisis. The demonstrators have waved Iraqi flags and images of Al-Sadr inside the building, while thousands of people protest outside, according to an AFP journalist.
The political crisis in Iraq is fully awaiting the appointment of a new president and prime minister, ten months after legislative elections in October 2021. Faced with the invasion and the protests in the country’s capital, the President of Parliament, Mohamed Al-Halbusi, has announced in a statementthe suspension of all parliamentary sessions until further notice” and has called on protesters to “preserve state property.”
The protesters, after spending the night in the building with tents, security committees and food distributions have free way to enter and exit due to the order that the prime minister has issued to the security forces to contain them.
Al Sadr urges to continue the occupation
Popular Iraqi Shia cleric and political leader Muqtada al-Sadr has urged this Sunday to the followers that since Saturday they occupy the Parliament of their country, whom he has named “revolutionaries”to continue with his protest, which he sees as an opportunity to change the political and electoral system. “The spontaneous and peaceful revolution that liberated the Green Zone (the area of Baghdad where the legislature is located) is the golden opportunity for all the people who were burned by the fire of injustice,” Al Sadr said in a broadcast message. through his Twitter account. “It’s a great opportunity to fundamentally change the political system, the constitution and elections“, he added without clarifying how he intends to achieve these reforms.
In the published message, he urges his followers to continue and he asks other groups in Iraqi society to support “the revolutionaries.” “Rise up to demand reforms in your country (…). Do not miss the opportunity or there will be a moment of regret. (…) The current revolution is sadrist”, he said. At the same time, one of his advisers has issued another statement giving the demonstrators instructions on how to organize inside Parliament.
Al Sadr, who has a great mobilization capacity among the humblest strata of the Shiite population in Iraq, has also expressed his hope that “the tragedy of losing the first golden opportunity in 2016″, when his supporters also stormed Parliament to call for reforms and They ended up peacefully withdrawing.
The Sadrist bloc won the legislative elections last October with 73 seats in a fragmented Lower House of 329 deputiesbut made them resign last June after blocking the vote to elect the president, a step prior to the formation of a government, by an alliance led by their pro-Iranian Shiite rivals.
“Corrupt and incompetent government”
The protesters reject the candidacy for Prime Minister of Mohammed Chia Al Sudaniconsidered close to the former head of government Nuuri Al Maliki, historical opponent of Sadr. In Parliament GardensSattar Al Aliawi47, explained that he was demonstrating against “a corrupt and incapable government”, in reference to Sadr’s opponents. “We don’t want Mr. Sudani,” she said. “The people totally reject the parties that have governed for 18 years. We will have a sit-in under the dome of parliament, we will sleep here,” he added.
During Saturday’s protests, at least one hundred demonstrators and 25 members of the security forces were injured, according to the Ministry of Health. The police launched tear gas in front of the stones of the protesters. “The ongoing escalation is deeply worrying,” she lamented on Twitter. UN Assistance Mission in Iraqasking for a “de-escalation”.
The entire Iraqi political spectrum called for the dialogue and de-escalationa. In a televised address, the Prime Minister, Mustafa Al Kazimi, in office, asked the political blocs “sit down to negotiate and come to an agreement”. Hadi Al Ameriwho leads a faction of the influential Hashd Al-Shaabithe ancients pro-Iranian paramilitariesalso called on the pro-Sadr movement and the Coordination Framework to prioritize “moderation (…), dialogue and constructive agreements to overcome differences.”
On Friday night, supporters of Moqtada Sadr party offices ransacked Daawa of Maliki in Baghdadas well as the offices of the Hikma Stream, the formation of the Shiite politician Ammar Al-Hakim, which is part of Coordination Frameworkaccording to a security source.
The EU cares
The European Union (EU) expressed this Sunday his “concern” about the protests against the Iraqi Parliament, he warned that we must respect the state institutions and has called for moderation and dialogue among all political forces to resolve the situation within the framework of the Constitution.
“The EU is concerned about the ongoing protests and their possible escalation in Baghdad. We call on all parties to exercise restraint andavoid more violence”, A spokeswoman for the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs said in a statement, Joseph Borrell.